phil jacobsen


Me and My Shadow

Do you judge a man by the company he keeps? Do you judge a man by the shoes he wears? His clothes or how he treats his server in a restaurant. You can judge a man by his good deeds or how he treats his enemies. You shouldn’t judge a man until you know his motives.

If you’re going to judge this man, please do it by the size of my shadow. Today my shadow was 87 feet long. Do you know what else is exactly 87 feet long—besides the obvious answer of the Essex—the whaling ship that the book Moby Dick was based on?

Yeah, me neither, and that makes me and my shadow greater than Moby Dick. You can call me Ishmael, but you know what isn’t small? My shadow—did I mention it was 87 feet long today.



Hey Buddy, Got a Light?

(After the Storm: Photo by Deven Stross)

When I moved into my new dorm room, the overhead lights were burnt out. There really wasn’t a need for giant, overhead lights, since the sun was shining 24/7, so I just opened my blinds when I needed to see.

Since we’re losing more and more sunlight per day, I’ve been getting dressed in the dark, and figured it was time to get these lights fixed. I thought the only way to get a new light bulb in this town was to set up a work order and have one of the Utility Mechanics (UTs) install these giant fluorescent tubes. Last night, I learned where spare bulbs were kept in my dorm.

Simple enough. I made the light shine.

Cancelling the work order, though, that took some work:

From: Jacobsen, Philip (Contractor)
To: Teuscher, Barbara (Contractor)
Subject: Let there be light


Last night I was telling some people of the lack of light in my room, and they mentioned there were light bulbs in one of the Janitor closets—I did not know this. I was able to change my own light, so you can cancel that work order for me. 

Now that I have light, though, can I get a work order for someone to vacuum my room? I had no idea it was so dirty.


From: Teuscher, Barbara (Contractor)
To: Jacobsen, Philip (Contractor)
Subject: RE: Let there be light

OH NO! Now I’ll have to report you to Station Management Phil! Those staged light bulbs are for trained UT personnel only; you haven’t been properly trained by MSHA or OSHA for Ladder Safety or Scaffolding.  I’m sure you were precariously balanced on some old, wobbly, wooden chair - wearing sweaty gear-issued grey socks while touching the electrical components in the light fixture! Did you glow brightly when you made contact with the element?

Well, that said, I’m very happy to hear you have light, but you need to “see the light” and know that in order for me to cancel your work order request it’d take 1) approval from Al Martin; forget going to NSF Bill  2) an executive order from Obama and/or 3) a stiff $payoff$ from you, my friend. OH, I did go to that Ethics Training; I can’t accept more than $10 for my services. Now, go bribe some cute janitor to run that Kirby across your nasty carpet!  LOL ;-}

“this little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine” …sing along with me Phil … 

From: Jacobsen, Philip (Contractor)
To: Teuscher, Barbara (Contractor)
Subject: RE: Let there be light

Instead of replacing my lights, did the UTs install a camera in my room instead? If I would have died during this repair, it would have looked like a murder from the game of Clue: “In my dorm room; Falling from a wobbly, wooden chair; Wearing gray socks; By touching electrical components.”

However, it should really be no surprise that I fixed my own light. It was only written about in a book called The Bible:

Genesis Chapter 1 versus 1-5

  1. In the beginning UTs created the Dorms and the Galley.
  2. But McMurdo was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the dorms. And the UTs moved upon the face of Ross Island.
  3. And Barb said, Let there be light: but there was No light.
  4. Then Phil saw the light bulbs in the Janitor Closet, and it was good: and Phil removed the bad light bulb from his ceiling—while standing on a wobbly, wooden chair, and wearing gray socks
  5. And Phil turned on the light and he called it bright. And in the morning was the first day he saw his floor was dirty.

 The work order was cancelled.



I’m no Hero or Weatherman


This morning when I opened the door to my building, the fire alarm was sounding and I ran around looking, hoping and wishing that I could find the fire. Not to be a hero to save the building from burning; I wanted to find some heat.

Right now there is a 90.7 degree difference between the temperature outside and the temperature in my office. If the temperature outside was 50 degrees that would mean it would be 140.7 degrees at my desk. That’s the kind of heat I was hoping for when I thought the building was on fire.

Instead, when I walked to work this morning it was minus 34.7 outside, and I came inside to a chilly welcome of 56 degrees. The windows are a pain in keeping out the breeze and the doors seem to be thinking, “The half of me that is facing the outside is jealous of the half that is working on the inside.” So the passive aggressive “outside half” is letting in enough of the cold air to remind the “inside half” that it is taking the whole brunt of the weather today.

The door is like two siblings fighting over household chores and the outside half knows it got screwed. It’s outside picking up the dog shit, while the inside half is helping mom make chocolate chip cookies.

Or, something like that. Shit, I don’t know? By the time a thought leaves my brain and travels to my frozen fingers on the keyboard there is some eloquence lost in translation.

Weather today: Cold
Outlook for Tomorrow: More Cold



Storm’s a Brewing

The last flight left after it had nearly one week of mechanical and weather delays. I’m not an airplane mechanic, so I don’t know what happened with its struts, flappers or flux capacitors to cause the delay. I’m also not a weatherman, but on the day the flight was delayed—due to weather—it was one of the most beautiful days in March I’ve seen in McMurdo. I guess even Willard Scott and Al Roker got it wrong sometimes.

That being said, once the plane took off, we had a champagne toast on the back deck of the Chalet to kick off our Winter. The thought being, “If we ply them with alcohol, maybe they won’t notice that they’re more stranded than Gilligan, the Skipper, The Millionaire and even his Wife.”

This is my buddy Storm. Very few people know his real name, because “Storm” is who he is. He’s a chump when it comes to cribbage, but he’s the 2nd best cribbage player this continent has to offer this Winter. I have a feeling, that without even one minute of sunshine this Winter, I will have a tan line on my wrist from “The Cribbage Champ” bracelet.



This is a Test


It’s been so long since I’ve posted to my website, I figure I’d throw up a test photo and quick message.

This will be my third Winter at McMurdo Station. The first one I went crazy (2003), the second one I stayed sane (2006) and I’m hoping this third one puts me on the 66 and 2/3-percent side of sanity. Only time will tell on that one.

I’ve Wintered as a dishwasher and in Supply, and since last writing about my Antarctica Career path, I’ve also been a Fuelie during a couple of summers.

The people in Supply called me a traitor when I changed jobs to Fuels and the Fuelies thought the Supply people were petty. When I took my new job to work in the Comms shop for this Winter, I was strung up like Benedict Arnold and branded as a traitor of the Fuels department, too.

Then I got invited to the Fuelie end of season party, so I guess all of those fumes they huff makes it so they have short term memories.

The photo up above is one of the views from my new office. It over looks the Royal Society Mountains and the currently-unfrozen Ross Sea. During my last two Winters, this water was always frozen. I have seen whales and seals from my office window. Repeat: I have seen whales and seals from my office window. I love my new job.

Okay, so ends the test of this blog update, and so begins the test of The Winter 2013—Sane or Insane—place your bets.

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